Friday roundup: A week in tech

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A former Google manager has become the latest tech turncoat to renounce his past evil ways – by accusing his erstwhile employers of ‘manipulating human nature’.

Guilt-sodden Tristan Harris turned to Radio 4’s Today programme for a lengthy confessional, during which he warned giving the likes of Google a ‘free pass on regulation’ will have terrible consequences for humanity.

(I should mention that I’m getting all this from a Daily Express story, so some or all of it may be misleading or false. In fact, the story’s headline refers to ‘hunan nature’ which I have taken the liberty of reinterpreting as ‘human nature’.)

Not really adding anything new, Mr Harris grumbled: “They [the world’s tech companies] are caught in this race to the bottom of the brain stem, and the problem is, it leads to huge consequences across the social fabric – from alienation and isolation to loneliness for teenagers.’

Again, not exactly setting the world alight with his ‘exclusive’ insights Mr Harris added that firms such as Google are ‘obsessed with maximizing clicks and little else’. Well, duh.

So, in summary: yet another chilling forecast of the ghastly hellscape we’re heading towards.

***

A woman has upset some people on the internet – and not just for merely existing.

Apparently not content with having the effrontery to be female, model Lyndsey Scott has had the further audacity to admit that she can write computer code.

Outraged and disbelieving net users were quick to mock Ms Scott’s claim that she can programme in C++, Java, Python and so on – provoking her to reply that ‘I have 27481 points on Stack Overflow; I’m on the iOS tutorial team for RayWendelich.com; I’m the Lead iOS software engineer for Rallybound, the 841st fastest growing company in the US according to Inc. Magazine,’ whatever any of that means.

So, it turns out you can be a woman, a model, AND a coder. Whatever next? (Busy/greedy Benjamin Franklin was an author, printer, politician, scientist, inventor, humourist, activist, statesman, and diplomat, but he was a man which changes things (also his modelling career was short-lived and awful).)

Anyway, this next bit of news might cheer up those disgruntled by the presence of pesky girls in the world of code: the number of women studying computer skills has fallen by a third.

A study by the Joint Council of Qualifications found that the number of female students who took GCSEs in computing or IT has fallen from nearly 53,000 in 2014 to 35,000 in 2018.

So, it looks like it might be a bit of a victory for James Damore-types: all those hours spent grinding away on Twitter et al may possibly have driven a lot of girls away from the hallowed world of computer coding. Well done!

***

A rattled cleric’s whinging has led to the closure of a 3D printing shop, which sounds like the set-up for an episode of a strange sitcom.

Sheikh Othman al-Khamis’s moaning has seen to it that the Kuwaiti shop was shut down by the authorities, after he accused the outlet of creating ‘idols’ – that is, 3D printed models of what looks like a random unremarkable man.

Backing the ecclesiastical complainer’s objections, Twitter user Abdulrahman al-Nassar tweeted: ‘Today these idols are mementos, but in years to come, people will seek blessings from them… and then they will be worshipped instead of God.’ Ah, right, yes, thanks for that.

In Islam, idolatry is considered a sin – yet there don’t seem to be any regulations covering Twitter usage, which seems like a bit of an oversight to me.

Anyhow, the banned shop’s despairing owner said: ‘I never expected that we could open a shop in the year 2018 and then have someone accuse the company of selling idols.’

***

Daft Elon Musk has finally got what he’s apparently craved for the last couple of months: he’s being sued for calling someone a ‘pedo’.

The peculiar billionaire first accused British diver Vernon Unsworth of being a ‘child rapist’ back in July, in the tumult following this summer’s blockbuster: 12 Trapped Thai Teenagers and a Mini Submarine.

Unable to back up the appalling slur, Mr Musk deleted his libellous tweets – but the incident clearly ate away at him, and he recently re-lit the stupid and wholly unnecessary fire by again implying that Mr Unsworth is a paedophile.

The diver has now decided to sue and is seeking £57,000 is damages – absolute peanuts as far as Mr Musk is concerned, but perhaps the real cost will be to his reputation. The Tesla owner’s behaviour and pronouncements have drawn lots of attention of late, which has led in part to some sharp falls in the value of his firm’s shares.

What a load of utterly idiotic nonsense. Have a nice weekend.

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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